AIDS Action Council To Work Toward Passing Stop AIDS In Prison

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AIDS In Prison

AIDS Action Council underscored its support of the Stop AIDS in Prison Act of 2007.

The bill filed by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) in April would provide routine non-mandatory (opt out) HIV counseling and testing at entry and release from federal prisons and allow inmates to request an HIV test while ensuring that they would not be penalized by prison officials for making that request. AIDS Action vowed to work with Congress toward passage of the bill on behalf of its diverse nationwide membership of community-based HIV/AIDS service providers and public health departments.

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The rate of confirmed AIDS cases is three times higher among prison inmates than in the U.S. general population, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin most recently revised on March 1, 2007, including data through 2004, the most recently compiled data.

"This important bill recognizes and addresses the HIV epidemic within federal prisons and the public health threat it poses to our nation," said Rebecca Haag, Executive Director, AIDS Action Council. "This bill, which seeks to stop the spread of HIV in prisons and the community through counseling, testing and treatment of inmates, is an essential piece of legislation. It will help prevent new infections as well as ensure treatment for a large number of people currently living with HIV by protecting prisoners' rights and ensuring that best practices in HIV testing and treatment are followed," she added.

AIDS Action commits to maintain its work with legislators to prioritize the needs of people living with HIV by making life-saving drugs, medical treatment, and essential support services available to all who are HIV infected, and to highlight the importance of HIV prevention. More than 250,000 people in the U.S. know they are infected with HIV but do not have access to HIV care, and an additional 250,000 -- 300,000 people in the U.S. are infected with HIV but are unaware of their positive status.

"As many as 1.2 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the United States; we can best help them by making sure they receive quality care and treatment, including people who are incarcerated," Haag said.

AIDS Action strives to end the HIV epidemic by advancing public policies that prevent new infections, provide care for people living with HIV, and support the search for a cure. AIDS Action serves as the national voice for AIDS service organizations, health departments, and a diverse network of community-based organizations across the U.S. that provides services for people living with or affected by HIV infection.

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